Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fazakerley, Nicholas

FAZAKERLEY, NICHOLAS (d. 1767), lawyer and politician, son of Henry Fazakerley, came of an old Lancashire family which long resided at Fazakerley, a township near Liverpool (Baines, Lancashire, ed. Whatton and Harland, ii. 291). His own house was at Prescot, Lancashire. On 9 Feb. 1714 he was admitted of the Inner Temple from the Middle Temple, but was called to the bar from the latter society (Inner Temple Admission Register). At first he practised chiefly in chambers as an equity counsel, but as his practice grew he began to appear with increasing frequency, not only in the equity court, but in the courts of common law, mostly, however, to argue questions connected with conveyancing and the transfer of real property. Occasionally his consummate knowledge of constitutional law led him to be retained in state trials. Among the most interesting of such cases was the trial of Richard Francklin, a Fleet Street bookseller, on 3 Dec. 1731, for publishing in the ‘Craftsman’ of 2 Jan. previously the famous Hague letter said to have been written by Lord Bolingbroke (Howell, State Trials, xvii. 626–76). Fazakerley was retained along with Mr. (afterwards Sir Thomas) Bootle for the defence, and, in the words of Lord Mansfield, ‘started every objection and laboured every point as if the fate of the empire had been at stake’ (Campbell, Lives of the Chief Justices, ii. 541). In January 1732 he was chosen to succeed the Right Hon. Daniel Pulteney as M.P. for Preston. He evinced his gratitude for the honour conferred upon him by making, in the following December, a niggardly present of 20l. to the mayor of Preston ‘to be applied in some charitable manner amongst the poor of the town.’ He himself recommended its application to the binding of poor freemen's sons to be apprentices. He retained his seat for life, being returned at the head of the poll in the contested election of 1741 (Smith, Parliaments of England, i. 186). In August 1742 Fazakerley was appointed recorder of Preston, which office he also held until his death. His politics, however, prevented his attaining the honours of his profession; he never received even a silk gown.

Fazakerley entered parliament as an adherent of the tory party; he was a Jacobite of the cautious type. He was listened to with attention, and by a section of his party came to be regarded as a leader. In a debate on the convention with Spain, 9 March 1739, whereby peace was secured on payment by the Spanish government of a compensation to English traders, he declared that if Sir Robert Walpole ‘were determined to carry it by a majority, he would never again appear in the house till he perceived a change of measures’ (Cobbett, Parliamentary Hist. x. 1318). He also distinguished himself in the debates in May 1751, on Lord Hardwicke's Regency Bill, especially by his resolute opposition to the marriage clause (ib. xiv. 1013–17). There is a story that Walpole prevailed on Lord Hardwicke, then Sir Philip Yorke, to quit the chief justiceship for the chancellorship, by the declaration: ‘If by one o'clock you do not accept my offer, Fazakerley by two becomes lord keeper of the great seal, and one of the staunchest whigs in all England!’ (Walpole, Memoirs of George II, i. 138 n.). Another of his speeches which attracted considerable attention was that delivered against the Jews' Naturalisation Bill, 7 May 1753 (Cobbett, xiv. 1402–12). Fazakerley died at his house in Grosvenor Street, London, in February 1767 (Scots Mag. xxix. 110; London Mag. xxxvi. 125–6, 147; Probate Act Book, P. C. C., 1767). His will was proved at London on 16 March following (registered in P. C. C. 95, Legard). He married 10 Oct. 1723 Ann Lutwyche, who survived him (Malcolm, Londinium Redivivum, iv. 294). He had a son and a daughter. The son died 30 June 1737 (Gent. Mag. vii. 451). Elizabeth, the daughter, was married 23 Dec. 1744, ‘with 16,000l. down,’ to Granville, eldest surviving son of John, first earl Gower, and died 19 May 1745 (ib. xv. 51; Collins, Peerage, ed. Brydges, ii. 450). A portrait of Fazakerley by Anthony Devis now hangs in the reading-room of Dr. Shepherd's Library at Preston. His clerk, Robert Boulton, left him at his death in 1760 the sum of 50l. with which to present his picture ‘drawn at full length with a handsome frame to the corporation of Preston, in order to be set up in the Town Hall of the said borough as a memorandum that the said Corporation had once an honest man to represent them in parliament’ (will of Robert Boulton, registered in P. C. C. 90, Lynch; Dobson, Hist. of Parliamentary Representation of Preston, 2nd edit., pp. 31–3).

[Walpole's Memoirs of George II, i. 96, 109, 125, 127, 132, 376; Walpole's Letters (Cunningham), i. 130, iv. 1; Cobbett's Parliamentary Hist. xi. 861, xii. 112–13, xiii. 884–95, 1027–31, xv. 185–91, 202–6, 245–9; Howell's State Trials, vol. xvii.; Addit. MSS. 6672 f. 426, 6688 f. 424, 6694 f. 51, 9828 f. 45.]

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